Introduction and Uses: Chinese Cabbage is also known as Bok Choy or Nappa. It is rich in nutrients that are essential for the body, health, skin and hair. Its crinkly leaves with white veins are rich in an array of vital vitamins and nutrients.
Botanical Name: Brassica rapa subsp. pekinensis
Sowing Season: Throughout the year. Best grown in winter.
Sowing method: Transplantation
Because the seeds are small in size, Chinese Cabbage plant is grown by transplantation method. Seeds are first sown indoors in seeding tray or outdoors on seed beds & later the seedlings are transplanted into the containers or in raised beds.
Sowing container: Seedling trays/ seed cups/ small polybags or grow bags Seed bed.
Sowing medium: Coco peat(indoors), Fine soil (outdoors)
STEPS FOR SEED SOWING (SEED STARTING) IN A CONTAINER:
Take a seedling tray with medium sized cells & drainage holes at the bottom.
Fill the cells/cups with a moist coco-peat medium.
Hold the Chinese Cabbage seeds and sow 2-3 seeds per cell/cup. Since Chinese Cabbage seeds are small in size, do not sow them deep.
Just put the seeds on the surface of the medium & push each seed a little inside the medium by using pencil tip, so that seeds are not visible on the surface anymore & cover it with more coco-peat. Or make small, shallow depressions on medium with pencil bottom. Put the seed on that depression & sprinkle more coco-peat on the top to cover the seed.
Keep the seedling tray indoors till the seeds germinate.
Covering: Keep the seed tray in a box or cover it with paper for first 4-5 days to encourage faster seed germination.
Water the seed cells with a spoon in the first week. Provide two tablespoons of water every day. Or keep the seed tray in another tray full of water for half an hour so that the water will be absorbed by the seed cells from the bottom, via drainage holes.
If seed beds are made outdoors,protect them from heavy rain or firect sunlight. Use well sieved fine soil as a sowing medium & make a nice raised bed from it. Cover the bed by making a temporary roof of a plastic sheet. Water it in the form of a light shower using awatering can.
GROWTH STAGES OF CHINESE CABBAGE PLANT:
Sprouting Stage: Seeds will germinate within first 6-8 days & tiny sprouts will be visible. Once seeds germinate, put the tray on an open partially sunny spot near the window. Don’t cover the tray anymore.
Cotyledons: The first two leaves will emerge in the second week of germination. These are false leaves called as cotyledons.
First leaves: First leaves will emerge above cotyledons at the end of the second week.
Seedling stage: Second week onwards, seedlings will start growing into a small plant. At this stage exposé the seedlings to more & more sunlight for leaf growth.
Thinning: After the second week, keep only single seedling per cell/cup. Cut off the weak, small & lagging seedlings with a pair of scissors.
Transplantation: 21 to 25 days after the seed sowing, your seedlings will be ready to transplant in container pots or raised beds.
Choose a container with a minimum depth of 8 inches & bigger spread area (according to available space & your requirement) like big Trays or crates.
Ideal planting mixture for Chinese Cabbage: 2 part garden soil & 1 part organic manure. Or,
1 part garden soil, 1 part coco-peat & 1 part Vermicompost.
Transplant the seedling along with root ball of a medium, without disturbing its roots.
Spacing: Plant the seedlings minimum 1.5 feet apart (45x45 cm), from each other on raised beds or in a container.
HOW TO TAKE CARE FOR CHINESE CABBAGE PLANT:
Sunlight: Chinese Cabbage grows well under full sunlight in winter. So place your containers accordingly.
Watering: Water your potted Chinese Cabbage plant every alternate day in winter. Water at the soil near the plant. Use a watering can and make sure that the plants get water in the form of the shower & not by a single flow. You can also make provision for watering by drip irrigation system for your raised beds. Avoid overwatering.
Manuring: Add good quality organic manure in the soil with 2:1 ratio before transplanting the seedling. Organic fertilizer can be well rotten cow dung manure, farmyard manure, compost or Vermicompost.
Top Dressing: Apply balanced liquid fertiliser or handful of vermicompost to each plant, every 15 days after transplantation.
Plant care: Always look for the early signs of any insect/fungal/ any other infections. Spray appropriate medicines as soon as any symptoms of such diseases are spotted. Watch out for Snails & slugs.
Harvesting: (90-105 days from seed sowing)
70 to 80 days after transplantation, ‘Cabbage heads’ will be ready to harvest. You can harvest many Chinese Cabbages per plant as long as the cold season persists.